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The Republic's growth is set 'to be highest in Europe'

By Michael McHugh

Up to €1.5bn (£1.07bn) will be available for tax reductions and investment in public services next year and budgets are set to expand until 2020, the Republic's finance minister has said.

In a spring economic statement, Michael Noonan said there would be no return to boom and bust politics and said people were beginning to have more confidence in the future.

The Republic's economy is growing at the fastest rate in Europe - predicted at 4% this year - while the deficit is falling, the Fine Gael member of the governing coalition said.

Mr Noonan said: "Putting more money into people's pockets has boosted consumer confidence and demand in the domestic economy. It will also encourage young Irish people who are working overseas in good jobs to return home, confident that they will be able to find well-paid jobs in Ireland.

"The government will continue to follow this policy in the next budget and in future budgets if the government is re-elected."

The deficit will fall below 3% from next year, according to Mr Noonan, providing a "new anchor" for budgetary policy.

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